Finland PM promises consensus strategy on EU constitution News
Finland PM promises consensus strategy on EU constitution

[JURIST] Finland's prime minister began the country's six-month presidency of the European Union [official website] on Wednesday by promising not to push for the ratification of the stalled European Constitution [official website, text; JURIST news archive] without building consensus among all member nations. During a speech [transcript] before the European Parliament, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen [official website] said:

Finland wants to take the discussion on the Union's future forwards. This will include debate on the very concrete question of the future of the Constitutional Treaty and enlargement.

I welcome the decision taken by the European Council in June to move on from mere reflection on the Constitutional Treaty to a more active stage. This twin-track approach is right; we will improve the way the Union works on the basis of the existing Treaties at the same time as we consider the future of the Constitutional Treaty.

Finland will start consultations on the future of the Treaty during its Presidency. These consultations with the Member States and the EU Institutions will form the basis of the report to be presented in the first half of 2007 under the German Presidency.

I am convinced that an enlarging Union needs the Constitutional Treaty that was negotiated by its Member States. In Finland, the Government presented a proposal for ratification of the Constitutional Treaty to the Finnish Parliament at the beginning of June. The Finnish Parliament will deliberate on the matter during its autumn session. Thus, Finland has come out in favour of the Treaty as negotiated.

Vanhanen also noted that "Our intention is not to smuggle the Constitutional Treaty in through the backdoor as the necessary changes can be introduced on the basis of the Treaty of Nice." The Treaty of Nice [EU materials] came into force in 2003, among other things, provided the European Parliament with an enhanced role in the EU lawmaking process.

The constitution is now in limbo after voters in France and the Netherlands [JURIST reports] voted against it, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel [BBC profile] has promised to focus her efforts on persuading holdout nations [JURIST reports] to ratify the document.

Commenting on the public perception of the EU as an irrelevant body, Vanhanen promised to increase its perceived legitimacy by working towards more efficient decision-making processes. has more.